Temba Bavuma’s frustration at a lack of opportunity in ODIs can’t be vindicated by a solid stretch of form at the business end of the CSA T20 Challenge, but has reiterated South Africa’s unwillingness to play so-called Test specialists in limited-overs competition, writes JONHENRY WILSON.
Bavuma, Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj and perhaps Theunis de Bruyn are prevalent examples of this limitation.
Dean Elgar was afforded a push at ODI recognition in late 2018, while Aiden Markram is an appropriate crossover study. Less than two months ago, Markram hadn’t scored an ODI half-century in 16 innings and was averaging less than 26 in the same format. He has since churned through a fine stretch of form for the Titans and Hampshire to transition from Test specialist and ODI fringe player to focal member of the World Cup squad.
Maharaj, like Bavuma, impressed during a brief stint in the ODI XI. The spinner’s limited-overs debut for the Proteas came in England in mid-May 2017, when a couple of solid performances in conditions and venues that’ll be encountered during the World Cup boded well. Alas, Maharaj has only been capped at ODI level twice since. World Cup selection has preferred the left-arm wrist spin of Tabraiz Shamsi turning into the right-handers, rather than Maharaj’s southpaw finger spin away.
Why Philander hasn’t been afforded more than 23 ODIs since November 2011’s rise to prominence is perplexing – and largely typifies this partitioned approach that has Bavuma and other Test cricketers deemed surplus to limited-overs requirement. Amid injury concerns over Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje ahead of the World Cup, one could assume Philander would be on standby, if not for injury sustained during the closing throes of the Cape Cobras’ 2019 CSA T20 Challenge campaign.
Australia and Sri Lanka have overlooked limited-overs talent such as Ashton Agar in favour of predominantly Test spinner Nathan Lyon for this World Cup. Sri Lanka have acted similarly with Dimuth Karunaratne ahead of Dinesh Chandimal. Maharaj instead of Shamsi, Philander rather than Dwaine Pretorius or Bavuma ahead of Hashim Amla could have been justified.
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